What I love about Katie Davis is how she can make even hard work fun. This attitude is on full display in her new eBook How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller, 30 chapters of practical advice about things like plotting your strategy, using social media, growing your mailing list, and using videos in ways beyond book trailers. I edited the book (disclaimer!), so I know there’s great info in it, from Katie as well as the 60 authors she interviewed for the book. Katie visited DearEditor.com as a Guest Editor last year to sort out the benefits of podcasting versus adding video to your website. Today she answers readers’ questions (and my own) about promoting books. At the end of the Q&A are instructions for entering a drawing for A FREE PDF DOWNLOAD OF HER BOOK.
Katie, you’ve got a lot of on-going promo tools such as your weekly podcasts. When you have a new book coming out, how far ahead of your pub date do you start book-specific promoting?
My mind can wander, imagine, plan and think of specifics while I’m finishing up the art (not the writing—I can only think of the story when I’m writing). With Little Chicken’s Big Day, every time I had a new idea, I added it to The List. Then once I turn in the art I can pay attention to that list, anywhere between 18 months to a year before the book comes out.
How do you balance your writing and promoting time?
Last year I did not do well on the balance thing! So far this year I am getting up early, doing a little social media action over coffee, and then I turn everything off and write in the mornings until lunch. After lunch I do other kinds of things, like my podcast or email answering, blog writing, etc.
Will the promotional strategies in your book work for novels, too?
Actually, it would work for any kind of book—including adult books. And in fact, the basic principles would work for any kind of promotion, though the examples are specific to children’s books.
And now a few questions from DearEditor.com readers…
I love your trailer for Little Chicken’s Big Day! What’s one effective way to use a trailer? —Anonymous picture book writer
One? Just one? Sorry. Can’t do that! Here are many things to do with your great book trailer:
- Upload it to YouTube (you can use up to four different titles in order to upload four times, broadening your reach)
- embed on your site
- upload to other video sites like teachertube.com, booktrailersforall.com, and kidlitbooktrailers.ning.com/video
- include the YouTube URL in your signature
- create a QR code and include it on your business card
- enter it in trailer competitions like the Moby or SLJ Trailee Award contests
Does it make sense to send free promo copies directly to teachers, as a contribution to their classroom libraries? —BrickToyNut, MG fantasy writer
It would certainly be nice of you! It makes sense if you want to thank a particularly supportive or helpful teacher. However, if your goal is to generate word of mouth in the teaching community, I’d recommend holding a giveaway. Then tweet, blog, and Facebooking it to teachers would be far more effective. If your goal is to generate sales, it might be better to send support materials to tempt them to use the book in the classroom. You could do other things to be helpful, like offer “value added” services to make it worthwhile to purchase your book. Offering a free Skype Q&A to the class after they do an author study would be a great example of that. To connect with teachers for this kind of promotion, check out http://skypeanauthor.wetpaint.com/ or http://www.katemessner.com/authors-who-skype-with-classes-book-clubs-for-free/.
How important is it to create a teacher’s resource guide to go along with the book? —BrickToyNut
It depends on the target age of your reader. Picture books should have activities or puzzles, or anything that extends the impact and value of your book. Middle grade and young adult novels should absolutely have a resource guide. You can offer it as a digital download on your site and other sites that sell your book, and if you have it printed you can make it available at book fairs, festivals, and school visits. I have one for a middle grade novel I wrote that did not do well, but I’m glad I have it because the teachers I’ve given it to love it!
Out of the many suggestions you have on how to promote a book, which one would you say has the highest success rate? —Kurt Chambers, YA fantasy writer (whose first novel, Truth Teller, pubbed last week!)
Congrats on your debut!
Genuine reciprocity is the best way to live online. It’s the thing I emphasize most in How to Promote Your Children’s Book. That means:
- give before you get
- support others
- follow blogs not because you hope they’ll review your book but because you like what they have to say
- engage in your community and connect
What does that look like?
- Tweet someone’s blog post because you like it
- Tell others about a great site
- Blog about something that will help other people
I wanted to make this tour worth it for anyone who would help me so I
bribed enticed my hosts to join in the fun work by gifting them their own copy of the book. There is also promotion for them because they’re each linked on every blog I’m visiting, as well as on my own site. As hokey as it sounds, the thing that works best for me is to always try to give more than I get. It feels good to help others and if it feels good, you’ll be more likely to keep up with your promotional efforts, too.
Follow Katie’s blog tour for more promo insights & giveaways:
- Feb 1 – E is for Book
- Feb 2 – Banana Peel Thursday
- Feb 3 – Creative Spaces
- Feb 6 – DearEditor.com
- Feb 7 – Writing With a Broken Tusk
- Feb 8 – Shutta Crum
- Feb 9 – McBookWords
- Feb 10 – Kerem Erkan
- Feb 16 – Elizabeth O. Dulemba
- Feb 17 – Fiction Notes
- March 1 – 12×12 in 2012
- March 2 – Christine Fonseca
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment on this post by midnight Wednesday, Feb 8, to be included in the random drawing for a free pdf edition of How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller. Winner to be announced Thursday, Feb 9.
Katie Davis has published nine books and appears monthly on the ABC affiliate show, Good Morning Connecticut, recommending great books for kids. She produces Brain Burps About Books, a podcast about kidlit, a blog and monthly newsletter. Katie has volunteered in a maximum-security prison teaching Writing for Children and over the last dozen years has presented at schools and writing conferences. She’s a 2010 Cybils judge and has also judged the Golden Kite, smartwriters.com, and Frontiers in Writing awards. Recently Katie was selected to be on the Honorary Advisory Board for the Brooke Jackman Foundation, a literacy-based charity. For more about Katie and her book, go to www.KatieDavis.com.